Pressurised Thermal Shock (PTS) is one potential risk to the integrity of the reactor pressure vessel in a pressurised water reactor. It has been postulated that PTS could occur as a result of various initiating events such as loss-of-coolant accidents with subsequent re-pressurisation. Experimental studies of PTS are typically very difficult and expensive to perform because both a severe thermal shock and a primary load must be applied to the test specimen, while the specimen itself must be very large to imitate the behaviour of the RPV wall. We investigated the feasibility of using scaled-down PTS test specimens based on the spinning-cylinder concept. The use of scaled-down specimens could greatly reduce the difficulty and cost of experimental PTS testing. To explore this concept, we used a particularly well-characterised spinning-cylinder PTS test: the NESC-1 test which was performed in the late 1990s. A large parametric set of elastic-plastic finite element models was used determine a combination of specimen dimensions and test conditions that would very closely mimic the crack tip conditions which occurred during NESC-1. Specifically, the modelling demonstrated that it was indeed possible to replicate the KJ vs. temperature trajectory, and crack tip constraint, at a critical point on the crack tip line from which tearing initiated during the actual NESC-1 test. The reduced-size specimen must be carefully designed: it cannot be a simple linear scale-down due to the inherent non-linearity of both the thermal and mechanical processes which occur during PTS.

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